Dr. Brenda E. Sirovich and colleagues from the VA Outcomes Group in White River Junction, Vt., and the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Lebanon, N.H., conducted a national survey of U.S. primary care physicians from the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile.
Forty-two percent of all survey respondents said patients in their own practice receive too much medical care, while 6 percent said their patients receive too little care.
Fifty-two percent say the amount of care received is just right, but 28 percent said they personally were practicing more aggressively than they would like and 29 percent say they felt other primary care physicians in their community were practicing too aggressively.
Study participants identified three factors they believe cause physicians to practice too aggressively -- 76 percent cite malpractice concerns, 52 percent mention clinical performance measures and 40 percent cite inadequate time to spend with patients.
The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, concluded 83 percent of physicians say they could easily be sued for failing to order a test that was indicated, while 21 percent say they could be sued for ordering a test that was not indicated.